Noam Lanir and Yahoo Are Partners Again

U.S. web company reaches pact with startup controlled by the tech entrepreneur.

Ofer Vaknin

Less than two years after a near split, Noam Lanir and Yahoo are partners again.

Apply Advanced Mobile Technologies, which the online entrepreneur controls, said Wednesday that its Kibo units had reached an agreement with the U.S. Internet giant to integrate Yahoo content and search engine into its smartphone key boards.

Kibo, which is controlled by Apply and another Tel Aviv Stock Exchange-traded company, WhiteSmoke Software, will probably split revenues from the collaboration on a 50-50 basis. Kibo makes a touch-screen keyboard branded to popular sports teams and stars.

In 2013, another Lanir company, Babylon, a maker of downloadable software via a toolbar app, came close to losing its key contract, Yahoo, after the U.S. company accused it of various violations. The two sides resolved their differences, but Babylon, which did lose a similar agreement with Google, never recovered.

On Wednesday Oron Zell, Apply’s CEO, said he wasn’t concerned that history would repeat itself.

“There’s no connection to the world of toolbars. With us, the user chooses to download the application and chooses whether to use the tools available on it. In the toolbar world, the user downloaded software and got add-ons he never asked for,” Zell pointed out.